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The Benefits of Adjustable Buttstocks

You know, most Modern Sporting Rifles like AR-15s you see around these days come with an adjustable stock. But have you ever wondered why that is? In the early days of America’s favorite rifle – the M16, the military cousin of the civilian AR-15 – actually sported a fixed stock. But then, the military decided to switch things up and opted for an adjustable one.

In this post, we’re going to dig into why you might want an adjustable buttstock for your rifle or shotgun, exploring the benefits that it brings to the table. Enjoy reading!

Table of Contents

What Is an Adjustable Stock?

Starting with the basics, an adjustable buttstock is a component of a rifle (or shotgun) that can be altered to fit the shooter’s needs. Most MSRs feature adjustable stocks with an adjustable length of pull – the distance between the trigger and the butt of the stock. This not only allows you to adjust your rifle to the specific body shape of a shooter but also reduces muscle strain and makes holding the gun more comfortable.


On the other end, you’ll find stocks that feature adjustable comb height (cheek rise). It’s often seen in Modern Precision Rifles (MPR) and chassis. For instance, some versions of the Browning X-Bolt and the Tikka T3x TAC A rifle feature an adjustable cheekpiece, while rifles and chassis by Christensen Arms, the Ruger American Hunter, and the Weatherby Model 307 Range XP feature both the cheek rise and the length of pull. Some stocks feature adjustable butt pads.

It’s worth noting that there’s a distinction between collapsible and adjustable stocks. While a collapsible stock can only adjust the length of pull, an adjustable stock offers several customization options, including butt-pad length and cheek risers. However, these terms are often used interchangeably.

Benefits of an Adjustable Stock

Adaptable for Different Shooting Positions


Whether you’re a casual target shooter, a competitive marksman, or a hunter, you’ll find yourself shooting from various positions. An adjustable stock is designed to adapt to these different scenarios.

When shooting standing up, you may need a shorter length of pull to comfortably shoulder the rifle and maintain control. In CQB situations, having a shorter, maneuverable rifle is also advantageous. In contrast, when you’re shooting from a prone position, commonly used in long-range precision shooting, you might prefer a longer length of pull and the capability to adjust a cheek rise to maintain better stability and control over your rifle and consistent sighting in.

Moreover, an adjustable stock can accommodate changes in shooting positions on the fly. In dynamic shooting competitions where shooters must engage targets from various positions, the ability to quickly and easily adjust the stock length can be a significant advantage.

Takes Less Storage Space

Next, a firearm with an adjustable stock simply takes less space compared to a fixed stock. It means an AR-15 with an adjustable stock is easier to store in a gun safe and more convenient to transport. It’s also worth noting that the adjustable buttstock itself is typically lighter than a fixed stock, reducing the overall weight of the firearm and making it easier to handle.

Adjusts to Your Clothing

The feel of your gun can significantly change depending on your clothing. In the summer, you might be in a T-shirt, while in winter, you could be layered up. Adjustable stocks can be modified to suit your clothing, ensuring comfort and ease of use regardless of the season or outfit.

Provides Consistent Eye-to-Scope Alignment


Achieving consistent eye-to-scope alignment is a crucial factor in precision rifle shooting. An adjustable buttstock allows shooters to fine-tune the cheek rest height to ensure perfect alignment with the scope’s reticle. This adjustment leads to more accurate and consistent shots over time as it reduces the need to constantly adjust one’s head position.

Adjustable Stock Features

Recoil Reduction Technology

Some adjustable buttstocks come equipped with recoil reduction technology. This feature absorbs a portion of the recoil energy, making the firearm more comfortable to shoot and enabling quicker target reacquisition.

Additional Attachment Points

Adjustable stocks often provide additional attachment points for accessories, enhancing the functionality of the firearm. These could include sling mounts or even storage compartments.

How to Choose the Best Adjustable Stock

Choosing an AR Adjustable Stock

Before choosing an AR-10/AR-15 stock, you need to understand the purpose of your rifle and what buffer tube your rifle has.

The purpose of your AR rifle heavily influences the type of adjustable stock you need. For instance, if you’re into long-range shooting, you might want a full-size adjustable stock with a cheek rest and butt pad to help you stabilize your aim for those far-off targets. On the flip side, if you’re all about quick and nimble maneuvers for CQB or competition shooting, a light and simple stock is your best bet.

Next, knowing the type of buffer tube your rifle has is crucial because it determines what kind of stock you can use. Here’s a rundown of the three common types of buffer tubes used with AR-15s:

  • A2 Style Buffer Tube: These were used with the original A2 M16 rifles, which had fixed stocks. They’re longer than modern Mil-Spec and commercial AR-15 buffer tubes, providing better shock absorption and recoil mitigation. However, due to their length, they’re not the best for maneuverability and aren’t as commonly used today.
  • Mil-Spec Carbine Buffer Tube: This is the most common type of buffer tube used with AR-15s and M4s. They’re machined from billet aluminum and have a sturdy one-piece design with an external diameter of 1.148 inches. If you want some examples, HK, Colt, Smith & Wesson, LWRC, Armalite, and many others use Mil-Spec buffer tubes.
  • Commercial Carbine Buffer Tube: These are made from two separate pieces and have a thicker material to achieve the required rigidity. Therefore, commercial carbine buffer tubes have an outer diameter of 1.168 inches. They’re not as popular as Mil-Spec buffer tubes, but brands like Bushmaster, DPMS, and Rock River Arms use them.

Read more about AR-15 buffer tubes in this post.

So, when shopping for an AR10/AR15 rifle stock, you’ll be choosing from fixed, collapsible, minimalist, and PDW AR buttstocks.

If you’re into long-range precision shooting, consider a fixed stock, as it offers superior consistency. An example of a high-end fixed stock is the Magpul PRS Precision Adjustable Stock which, despite being fixed, offers features like an adjustable butt pad and cheek rise.

Collapsible stocks, as we’ve discussed above, offer a higher level of adjustability, fitting carbine buffer tubes and providing multiple locking points for setting the length of pull according to your needs. Plus, they’re usually lightweight, making them perfect for competition shooters. The Magpul STR is a good example of a collapsible stock for an AR-15 rifle.

By the way, if you want a super-lightweight AR build, you might want to consider a minimalist stock, like the Battle Arms SABERTUBE. It’s stripped back to the bare essentials, providing a solid surface for shouldering the rifle but without extras such as cheek rests or rubber butt pads. They’re typically non-adjustable, often coming with their own buffer tubes.

Lastly, if you’re looking for a stock for your SBR (an AR-pistol stock), consider PDW (Personal Defense Weapon) stocks. These come with small buffer tubes and have their own buffers and springs.

Choosing an AK-47 Adjustable Stock

The type of receiver on your AK-47 plays a significant role in determining the kind of AK stock you can use. Most AK platform rifles have two main types of receivers. Milled receivers are made from a solid metal block and were used in the original AK-47 rifles. However, these days, AKM-style stamped receivers, made from stamped sheet metal, are more prevalent. Moreover, AK receivers come with different attachment mechanisms: a tang to fit a fixed stock, circular cuts for under-folder stocks, or hinges for a folding stock. 

Modern AK-47 stocks boast a wide range of adjustable features. Cheek risers can significantly enhance your shooting experience by allowing you to adjust the stock to get a perfect cheek weld. Side folding stocks can make your rifle easier to store and maneuver. A rubber buttpad on your AK stock can absorb some felt recoil. And, of course, an adjustable length of pull allows shooters to set the length of the stock according to their body.

The Magpul Zhukov-S Stock is a standout option. It boasts a robust design and adjustable length, making it a versatile choice for any AK-47 shooter.

Strike Industries also offers an innovative solution with their AK to AR Stock Adapter. This allows you to use AR-15 stocks on your AK-47, providing a broader range of options and adding an extra layer of versatility.

Choosing a Shotgun Stock

When it comes to shotguns, recoil absorption is paramount. An adjustable stock that effectively reduces felt recoil can significantly improve your shooting comfort and control. This is especially important for those who participate in activities that require frequent shooting, such as clay shooting or hunting.

Mesa Tactical adjustable shotgun stocks are a fantastic option for shotgun users. It’s not only durable but also excels in managing recoil, thanks to its recoil-reduction butt pads.

The Blackhawk Knoxx SpecOps Gen III collapsible shotgun stock offers a unique recoil-reduction system, promising to cut recoil and muzzle rise by over 80%.

The benefits of adjustable buttstocks make them an excellent upgrade for any rifle or shotgun. They provide versatility, adaptability, and enhanced performance, making them a worthwhile investment for any firearm enthusiast. To choose the right one, consider your needs and the purpose for your firearm as well as the build of your gun (receiver, buffer tube style, etc.) If you’re opting for an adjustable gun stock, pick a high-quality one that won’t wobble after a hundred rounds. And, of course, explore GRITR Sports for all gun upgrades.


What is an adjustable stock?

An adjustable stock is a type of firearm stock that can be adjusted to fit the individual shooter’s body size, shooting style, and clothing or gear. These adjustments can include the length of pull and cheek weld.

Can I use any adjustable stock on my AR-15 or AK-47?

No, the type of adjustable stock you can use depends on your rifle’s receiver and buffer tube (for AR-15s). For AK-47s, it depends on the design of the receiver.

Are AR-15 adjustable stocks legal?

In most places, yes, adjustable stocks are legal. However, some jurisdictions may have restrictions on certain features like collapsibility. Always check your local and state laws before purchasing or installing an adjustable stock.

Why is the buffer tube important when choosing a gun stock?

A buffer tube, also known as a receiver extension, is a component of AR-15 rifles that houses the buffer and recoil spring and serves as the mounting point for the stock. It’s important when choosing an adjustable stock because different stocks are designed to fit different types of buffer tubes.

Can I use an AR-15 adjustable stock on an AK-47?

Generally, no. AR-15 and AK-47 rifles have different designs and mounting systems for stocks. However, some adapters allow you to fit an AR-15 stock on an AK-47, but compatibility is not guaranteed and installation may be complex.

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